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Dr. John A. Knauss
Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere
U.S. Department of Commerce
NOAA, the nation's oceanic and atmospheric
agency, through science and service:
Describes and predicts changes in the Earth's
Manages the Nation's ocean and coastal resources,
Promotes global stewardship of the world's oceans
To fulfill this mission, NOAA:
Conducts oceanic and atmospheric research to
improve environmental products and services
Develops and maintains environmental data bases
and disseminates environmental information
♦ Severe storm and flood warnings and weather
♦♦* Charts of U.S. waters and airspace
♦♦♦ River flow and water resource forecasts
♦♦♦ Solar and space environmental forecasts
♦♦♦ Climate change prediction
♦♦♦ Ocean and coastal analyses and assessments
Manages the marine environment by:
♦♦♦ Assessing the quality of the marine environment
♦♦♦ Conserving living and non-living marine re-
♦ Administering Federal-State coastal zone manage-
♦ Operating marine sanctuaries and estuarine
Protects habitat and endangered species
Operates environmental satellites, ships, aircraft
1. Increase the economic benefits of weather sen/ices.
Weather sensitive sectors of the economy such as
agribusiness, construction, transportation, and water resources
management require far more reliable mesoscale weather
forecasts in the 0-48 hour range. Our ongoing program to
modernize the weather service should make a significant
contribution to this goal.
2. Rebuild our fishery resources.
We must now improve the precision of our science,
move from hindcasting to forecasting, and slow the race for the
fish by limiting access where appropriate.
3. Restore our coasts; exercise our stewardship for the
The major ocean health problems are along the edges,
not the open ocean. We must further develop our program of
tracking the state of marine pollution and its sources as well as
the state of living marine resources and their habitats. To
achieve the latter will require significant improvement in our
understanding of fisheries ecology.
Congress has given us the opportunity to develop marine
sanctuaries and to restore damaged marine habitats and the
marine environment with funds won from those responsible
for the damage. We must develop responsible and aggressive
programs in both marine sanctuaries and marine restoration. To
do this, we must build a stronger base of coastal ocean science.
4. Learn enough about the ocean-atmosphere system to
achieve a long-range forecasting ability.
One can mostly ignore ocean-atmosphere Interactions
when making one and two day forecasts. These interactions
become of increasing importance as one extends the forecast
time. They probably become dominant when attempting to
predict "global change" with time constants of a decade or
more. Our understanding of the coupled system is not ad-
equate to provide successful forecasts except in a very limited
range of situations.
5. Monitor and predict the health of our atmosphere.
I expect the pollution carrying capacity of the atmosphere
is significantly less than that of the ocean. Tracking anthropo-
genic gases and aerosols, and understanding their sources, sinks,
and chemistry must continue to be a high priority. To under-
standing, we must add an operational predictive capacity.
6. Respond to Environmental Emergencies.
In addition to coping with chronic environmental
threats, we must expand and improve our quick response
capability for monitoring volcanic eruptions, accidental releases
of pollutants and radioactivity, and marine spills of hazardous
1. Maintain the vitality of NOAA 's research and development.
We will be perceived as a relevant agency fifteen years
from now only if our science remains strong in the meantime.
Accordingly, the best and the brightest scientists must have
modern laboratory equipment and facilities. They must have
the resources and flexibility to pursue new and promising lines
of inquiry as these emerge.
2. Complete the NWS Modernization and Associated Restruc-
We must improve our observing, communications, and
information processing capabilities. We must improve short-
range numerical weather prediction as well as warnings.
Toward these ends, we must restructure and train the staff.
3. Modernize the NOAA fleet.
We must improve our staying power and diagnostic
capabilities at sea through a mix of rehabilitation, purchase,
lease, and charter.
4. Develop a state of the art environmental data management
and distribution system.
Other agencies and the research community depend on
NOAA's data holdings for the conduct of their work. As the
Nation's Earth Systems Agency, NOAA must improve its
ability to capture, archive, quality control and make accessible
atmospheric, oceanic and geophysical data.
5. Build a global ocean observing system.
Whether it be for tracking the health of the coastal oceans
or predicting the next El Nino, we must work with the
international community to develop a systematic, high quality,
relevant and continuing set of ocean observations on a global
6. Develop a state of the art charting system.
Rapidly expanding technology — from GPS to GIS to
VLBI to absolute gravity to computer graphics to photogram-
metry techniques to multi-beam sonars — provide NOAA's
oldest component, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, with
requirements as well as opportunities to break new ground.
7. Modernize our computing and communications infra-
To reach the above goals, we must keep pace with
breathtaking increases in computing power and high-speed
Finally, NOAA is not responsible for developing all of
the science and understanding necessary to conduct its mission.
Much of that will come from research universities. I do believe
NOAA has a responsibility to ensure the health of those
universities actively engaged in programs that contribute to
NOAA's mission. Continuing improvement of NOAA's
relationship with the academic community remains a high